December 31, 2014

2015, like a snake shedding skin.

  1. "Go to the people whose eyes light up when they see you." I scribbled that in a notebook years ago and it's a quote that I use as a rudder in both business and personal relationships. Life is so much simpler with this in place. 
  2. Find a balance between being too flexible and too busy. A couple of years after moving to LA I had a studio visit with the director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art. What I remember the most was how the appointment was booked. It's a model for how I book meetings and how I view others when they handle appointments. It was gracious and accommodating, taking in account that artists have lives also. Here's the lowdown: They called and left a message on my answering machine a week in advance saying they'd like to do a studio visit. They offered me two days (something like Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) and three slots (morning, afternoon and late afternoon). This way of handling appointments gives both parties some flexibility and takes in account that artists have schedules too. It also saves the back and forth that goes on when trying to find a "convenient" time to meet via email or txt. I also use this as a judge of character. I figured if a museum director in Los Angeles could be gracious and flexible in scheduling appointments, everyone could. 
  3. Go with the gut.
  4. Say yes, or no— not, maybe or why not.
  5. Don't buy into other people insecurities. 
  6. Stay away from the crazies. 
  7. Say thank-you.
  8. Support causes you believe it.
  9. Support artists you believe in. 
  10. Don't skimp on the important stuff. 
  11. Stay away from people who do. 
  12. Hold doors open for people who have their hands full.
  13. Budget for travel, no matter how small or mundane.
  14. Take more pictures.
  15. Don't give up on painting.
  16. Talk to people. Hear their story.
  17. Listen. Be aware of people who pretend to listen. 
  18. Sit. Still. 
  19. Love. 
  20. And for the love of God, don't ask for something when you don't want it or advice when you don't need it. [slap]
  21. Find a job, pick up lucrative free-lance assignmrnts that make you feel good about having earned two degrees AND having paid off all your student loans. 
  22. Have compassion for people who don't get it. 
  23. Out with the old!

December 27, 2014

Finally, after 18 years, I have published another zine.

It's actually a chapbook of sorts, a picture book if you will. You can see it here.  Print and digital available. I can move on now, and just in time for the New Year.

December 17, 2014

Art Review: PhotoNOLA and The Big Easy

Although I did not go to Miami this year, there's something about the first week of December that makes me head further south in the name of culture. Check out highlights over at the Nashville Scene's Country Life:  Art Review: PhotoNOLA and The Big Easy

Mary Addison Hackett. DEC 4, 2014 New Orleans, LA

November 30, 2014


Starting Monday, as in tomorrow, DEC 1, I'll be guest-gramming for @southernglossary all week. I encourage everyone to follow 
along as I scope out a 532-mile radius of‪#‎Nashville‬. Yes, there may be a road trip because anything is possible. So hurry over to instagram and tune into @southernglossary this week. You won't be sorry. 

There's more to report, but we're hustling for culture tonight. 

November 27, 2014


Untitled, 2011

Untitled, 2010
I've been sifting through old images- ones from ages ago, as well as ones I started taking when I moved into this house. I knew there would be a photography project in all of this, but I was in the middle of a couple of solo exhibitions for the paintings and the general mayhem of the task at hand. I kept shooting, alternating between different cameras, but most of the time was I was in a hurry to get on with the clearing out of things. I know better now, and did then as well, but in truth, I'm only able to work on so many things at one time and it was necessary to perform triage among life, studio and work. Even though for me they are the same, there are some finer points to hash out that can make one or the other softer, more gentle.

There are themes. Things appear and disappear. The background changes, but the story remains the same. People shift in and out of roles, and then, they too are gone. There's no real chronological order anymore. There was at one point, but I thrived on making order out of chaos in my art for so long that it infiltrated other areas of my life. There is no real past. The furniture and the objects are simply instruments of time travel. 

Some of the older photographs are labeled Winter Garden and contain a picture of my mother. In my case, Winter Garden is a small town in Florida. But still, fascinating coincidence. 

And so it goes. I walked around today. Free parking. Streets were deserted. I kept wondering what I was looking for. 

November 21, 2014

I am still processing this occurrence.

More later about why I was in Knoxville, Tennessee, but for now, just accept that I was. And accept also that I wanted biscuits and gravy around 8am EST, at a diner—an "original" diner, not a strip mall knock-off. Now that I've been magically transported to said diner, know that I ordered and consumed my biscuits and gravy in the splendor of overhead fluorescent lighting, tacky shit on the wall, and if grades were given out like they are in the wacky state of California, ten to one, there would have been a little note on the door letting me know, I could eat at my own risk. Nonetheless, I am alive and I'm not complaining about the food. Or the kitchen floor. The owners were nice, and I was nice back. That counts for something.

So now that we've established the location and my pleasant rapport with the owners, I will proceed.

I ate at a diner, paid, tipped, and asked the owner if I could take some photographs. He said yes. On my way out, in the foyer, I was trying to shoot the claw machine. It sounds cheesy but that's not the point. An old man came out and started yelling at me, telling me that my camera was scaring away all the other old men and they didn't want any part of that facebook stuff. (Yes, earlier, I had aimed my camera in the general direction of the table of old men, but no faces were visible, only their backs). He ranted and yelled for me get out. He yelled at me about 3 or four times and each time I calmly said was just shooting the claw machine and didn't mean to offend anyone. He kept yelling at me and then asked me if I wanted him to go tell Sam, like I was going to get a whooping or something. I told him if Sam was the owner, I had already asked Sam and it was cool by Sam. He yelled again for me to get out and I asked if he was kidding, because at this point, I was in disbelief. I was shooting the claw machine. Oh, and during breakfast when I looked over at the table of old men, one of them was making a lewd tongue gesture to the young cashier. That was my Friday morning and I still never nailed the exposure of the claw machine.

November 16, 2014

Cold Storage

Film stills from In My Mother's House, 1995 ©Mary Addison Hackett

One thing led to another and I stumbled upon some negs from the documentary, In My Mother's House. This is the scene in which I open a working fridge that contained only empty glass jars and the carefully preserved bones of a turkey breast. And twenty some-odd years of freezer frost. I was shooting the scene and interviewing my mom at the same time. We both laughed so hard we cried. 

November 14, 2014

Yesterday's Bounty.

Every now and then I cross-post so if you're following me on tumblr, it's double your fun day. 

Nov. 13, 2014 Nashville, TN.  Mt. Olivet Cemetery 
Most everyone died in the dead of winter. This was my first visit in autumn. My people are buried further up in the granite headstone section where no one leaves plastic flowers. It’s much bleaker, but I respect their wishes to rest with a sense of dignity. I’ll drop by again this winter with holly clippings and the spray-painted gold pine cones I found in the closet.

November 09, 2014

October 27, 2014

What's shaking.

And speaking of what on my mind, in a new column over at Two Coats of Paint, Sharon Butler invited me to contribute a list of things I've been thinking about lately. The current work spans the better part of a year and "lately" is key to this particular list. Enjoy.

October 22, 2014

9:53 AM  Sharon Butler  
I have followed Mary Addison Hackett’s blog Process since she left LA a few years ago and returned to Nashville where her mother was in the hospital. Unfortunately, as Hackett drove across country, she received word that her mother had died. Since then, Hackett has been dividing her time between LA and Nashville, where she lives and works in her childhood home, sifting through family images and objects. Over the years, the gracious home has gradually evolved from the house she grew up in, to a sprawling artist’s studio with paintings, easels, palettes and other evidence of her robust painting practice filling every room.
For the second installment of the “Ideas and Influences” column, I asked Hackett to put together a list of things she’s been thinking about. Her solo exhibition “Crazy Eyes" is on view at David Lusk Gallery in Nashville through November 8. 
[Image at top: Mary Addison Hackett, Seashells, 2014, oil on canvas, 52 x 44 inches.]
1. Stuff and maintenance. The physical stuff. The George Carlin monologue about “Stuff,” stuff. The stuff we maintain and why we maintain it.  
2. Essays by Rebecca Solnit—memory, our perceptions of place and identity. 
3. Camping: a minimalist, transient space for leisure, domestic, and work activity. 
4. Wanderlust, disjointed narratives, and small gestures. While looking through inherited family photographs, I became slightly obsessed with vernacular photography and began collecting found photographs (images above). I’m still fine-tuning my eye for specifics, but I’ve noticed how the need to create a shared narrative with a stranger’s life is almost compulsory and that some of the most interesting narratives happen on the edge of the frame. 
5. Vision and focus— metaphorically and literally. 
6. Sophie Calle’s piece Exquisite Pain. In brief, a Exquisite Pain is a project that began as one thing and,  due to the ending of a relationship, transformed into another. Calle didn’t exhibit the piece until 15 years later, at which point she deemed the breakup “banal.” It’s much more complex than this brief description, but everything about Calle’s piece speaks to me.
7. The night sky, constellations, satellites and flight patterns. (This grouping is attached to wanderlust.) 
8. Susan SontagRoland Barthes (again). After painting from direct observation and pretending I’m kino-eye I’ve been looking back to my own history with the camera and painting. 
9. Document. Documentary. 
10. Art without ego. 
11. Queued up in my virtual reading room: Dylan Thomas, Adventures in the Skin Trade
12. On any given day, I could pack one more item in this list.
Mary Addison Hackett, Hotel Soap, 2013, oil on canvas, 50 x 38 1/2 inches.
Mary Addison Hackett, The Democratic Forest, 2014, oil on canvas, 66 x 56 inches.
Mary Addison Hackett, Pistol Shells, 2013-14, oil on canvas, 24 x18 inches.
Mary Addison Hackett: Crazy Eyes,” David Lusk, Nashville, TN. Through November 8, 2014. For readers in the Nashville area: Hackett will be giving an Artist’s Talk at the gallery on November 6 at 6pm.
[reposted from Two Coats of Paint]

October 25, 2014

Gratitude List:

Unknown, Signal Point. Personal collection.
  1. They are no longer serving pumpkin flavored coffee at Trader Joe's. 
  2. They've run out of pumpkin flavored toaster pastries at Trader Joe's. 
  3. Root vegetables. After a month of pumpkin flavored toaster pastries, I'm eating roasted beets and carrots for breakfast and dinner. With this much fiber, who need lunch? 
  4. A friend I met in Los Angeles about 10 years ago serendipitously called me the other day and offered a suggestion or two while I was trying to pretend like everything was just fine. 
  5. Press and reviews. I know, technically this isn't something to be grateful for since it sounds rather attention-seeking, so gratitude might not be the right word, but I am grateful that I showed up to the easel every day—no matter what kind of colossal and irrelevant crap was looming in my head– and competed a body of work I feel good about and that some people have responded to the work.  The show has been hanging at the gallery for 2 weeks now. I haven't had the chance to view the work in solitude in a distraction-free, white cube space with decent lighting, aka, the gallery. I should make a point to do that next week. It's a Rothko thing. Chapel, up next. Ommm. 
  6. Friends and people I call family. 
  7. The dog. 
  8. Roof over my head. 
  9. The past, seriously. My life would have been boring without it, but I'm grateful it's the past. *I mean this in the best possible way. No one wants to be stuck in the past, even the glamorous, loving kindness salad days parts. It's the past, man. Time to move on. Note to self:  Birdman at the Belcourt opens this week. 
  10. Micro-moments of awareness. 

October 17, 2014

Today Was a Good Day.

I swear I had almost forgotten what a simple, "Sure, sounds great" sounded like. Holy crap. Things I used to take for granted I no longer can and the tiniest acts of sincerity and civility stand out now. It was a great day—accompanied by THE best veggie burger in the world and topped off by having the courage to commit to at least one course of action. Rock on, indeed.

...And it just keeps getting better. Mind you, I'm talking incrementally, but there's something going on and it's good.

September 21, 2014

Step One.

It's really not such a bad job. It's time-consuming, but interesting. The box on the left contains 2000 slides. By rough estimation I am about half-way through moving the slides from their cumbersome carousels and boxes to their new home in archival slide sheets. I'm waiting for more sheets to arrive.  The next step is to scan them. That's going to be the heavy-lifting part of this gig. I'm taking this in steps, which allows me to think abut future projects that will inevitably come from this work and how best to archive and organize these images.

Someone recently gave me unsolicited advice that I might benefit from a group dedicated to Adult Children of Hoarders. Other people mistake my interest in personal history as nostalgia. I'm not sure how to answer either of those comments politely. I grew up as an only child and ever since I could remember I've considered myself an artist. It really didn't matter what media I used. Everyone in my family knew this about me and I know for a fact that much of what has been saved, as burdensome as I sometimes feel it is, was saved because of my appreciation of art, found images, and interesting objects. as well as my mom being somewhat of an amateur archivist and history buff herself.

The slides are primarily from my parents, and my aunt and uncle's cache. They date back to the 1940's. More than likely they will end in the early 70's. I remember roughly when my mom's 35mm Argus camera stopped working. Early 1970's after a trip out west. I don't know why they didn't fix it. Cost, likely, and maybe it had been discontinued by then. By that point, I was the family documentarian. I received a new Instamatic or Poloroid camera about every other year at Christmas. Eventually I had my own 35mm, and eventually I sold, re-bought, and sold them again. I no longer have any of my vintage camera equipment. Sometimes that extra 8 ounces of whatever is too much of a burden. You streamline. I did that again earlier this summer. I ditched most of my negatives from high school and college. And with good reason.

It's interesting the sense of detachment I have in looking at these photos. I'm not editing just yet, but in the process of physically scanning them as I insert them into slide sheets, I've made observations: My mother was raised in an upper-middle class family that made out okay during the depression. They appreciated nice things and liked to entertain. They wore tailored clothes that look nice in photographs. Based on what I know, my grandmother sewed many of the outfits, including suits, and my mother hand-knitted several things I've seen reproduced in photos. My dad had a full head of hair. There are rural scenes so at some point in time, my kinfolk came from small towns in the south. They owned cameras and flash equipment and took photos of everyday life. My aunt and uncle travelled frequently for professional reasons, and for leisure. I have photos of Istanbul, Greece, Morocco, Hong Kong, China, Tokyo, Cuba, Norway, Denmark and possibly other destinations I have yet to uncover. There were relatives in Florida. There are photos of small towns in the northeast and New York. Sunsets, oceans and boats; waterfalls, mountains and food. I notice I'm slightly jealous when I see other children being hugged by any of my relatives, even though I was not born at the time of the photograph and do not know who these urchins are. This must be an only child defense mechanism. I also wonder who exactly took the photos and by process of elimination, I make educated guesses. Some of the images are nicely composed. Some experiment with light and shadow. Some experiment with portraiture. I'm impressed by several. Some miss the mark, cropping an element in an awkward place, still lifes, usually. The majority are correctly exposed and I'm here to tell you that Kodachrome is remarkably archival. Effing amazing saturation after 60 years. Not all are labeled, and as I approached this task, I did so with the implicit understanding that I was not going to try to ID everything. Some slides are individually labeled, some have detailed liner notes corresponding to the carousel slot, and some carousels have notes, like

Palm Beach

hastily written on a scrap of paper and tucked inside the box.

I found a snow scene in the above box. A mountain with snow. I Googled "snow mountain Cuba" to make sure there was not some freak snowstorm in Cuba in 1950. There wasn't. There was a Great Appalachian Snowstorm in 1950. This would make more sense, but it was not documented as such.  After that I disregarded the notes. Truth in photography. Hah.

September 15, 2014

Nomadic Musing #1

If no one has done a critical investigation of armchair traveling through social networking, they should. Most of my network is still in California, with Chicago and the East Coast thrown in to balance it out. This means that the majority of images that cross my field of vision every day include clear blue skies, oceans, surfboards, palm trees, desert landscapes, sunsets, killer views of sun-filled studio spaces where you can practically feel the warm breeze blowing across your palette, and crowded openings filled with people I know or know of,  along with the occasional art-collecting celebrity or two if someone was shooting at Gagosian or The Broad at the Getty that night. (The John Currin-James Cuno conversation is making the rounds today.) And of course, on the west coast, everyone is bathed in golden light.  My east coast feed is notably more urban: Manhattan. LES, Chelsea, Brooklyn, openings of course, and snow. 

The outliers like myself, cover the burbs and beyond. The west coast dines well as does the east coast and I'm tempted a few times a week by the work of a local pastry chef. Dogs rule most of my feeds, but cats hold their own in any locale. The west coast never wears wool or coats or hats. They are tan and forever young. The rest of us are kind of fucked in this regard, but we knew this when we signed up for two or three other seasons. The New Year is  the only indication on the west coast that time may have passed. Everywhere else we brace ourselves for another extreme version of a new season.

I bring this to your and my attention because I'm restless. A few days ago, a friend was selling a condo in Florida and I tried to imagine myself making art among the white tile floors and split level contemporary surroundings. The a/c would be on 24/7 and the main bedroom and living area are carpeted  so I'd be barefoot. At 2 pm, I'd break and walk or ride my bike (a cruiser, of course) to the beach, just like I never did in LA. (Okay, so when I lived in Venice, I did, but that's different). I wasn't into the Miami Vice color combo, but I was already repainting everything Eucalyptus with Acorn and Latte. I should note that my imagined life in Florida was brief, and more along the lines of where I'd be if I were forced into the Witness Protection Program. 

This morning, an Oakland studio crossed my feed. Huge windows, tall ceilings, sunlight and fantastic paintings by an artist I've recently discovered, Anna Valdez. In real life, I know three people in Oakland. They are artists, of course because I only know artists. This is what happens when you are an artist of a certain generation. Your core group consists of artist, writers, and maybe a musician or two, who started out as an artist but made the switch. Next circle: curators, dealers, and critics, followed by collectors and appreciators of art. Eventually you might have some fashion, foodie, or stylist friends, but to get to that level, you'd have to be fashionable and most of us barely manage to pull together an outfit that didn't accidentally brush against the cadmium red, so, for me that's a stretch.  And of course, the advertising and post-production film world was a huge subset in my life, but I lost most of them when I went back into the studio and I lost the rest of them through a divorce, so we don't talk about that. 

Oakland sounds nice today. 

September 14, 2014

If you hang around long enough, everything comes full circle.

©M. A. Hackett. Video Still. In My Mother's House, 1995

"Domestic ethnography is a kind of supplemental autobiographical practice; it functions as a vehicle for self examination, a means through which to construct self-knowledge through recourse to the familial 'other." —Michael Renov, Domestic Ethnography and the Construction of the "Other" Self.

I recently rediscovered the above quote from an artist statement I wrote in 1995 while working on a documentary with my mother. That same year I received a workshop grant from POV television to develop the documentary and got to hang out with some sharp filmmakers in Minneapolis-St Paul for a few days. I vaguely remember being on the street and tossing my hat in the air Mary Tyler Moore style, because well, of course you'd do that in Minneapolis-St Paul. The 1995 video took place in the same home I have once again been investigating— this time through the act of painting. For a moment I'm going to avoid the psychology of all this and just be grateful I've had the last few years to have my art and my life catch up with one another in a double helix flying camel sort of way. 

I sold my video and audio equipment last week to help fund a decent digital camera for documenting the work. I hadn't shot, directed or cut anything in almost 15 years and when I went back to painting I swore I'd never leave...
Mary Addison Hackett, Flocked, 2014 oil on linen, 10 x 8 in. 

To be continued...

It's almost funny.

September 13, 2014

Win some.

I'm 24 minutes late for expresso, but Facepalm Man was a good find so it was worth it.

Post-espresso update:

I've been thinking about past openings and all the great people I've met. Truly amazing, really. I used to blog more and every so often I would meet another painter who had been following my blog at an opening. It meant, and still means a lot to me to meet people who dig the art. It''s not an ego thing, it's a connecting thing. I communicate through my art. I feel less alone in the world when my art is out there in the world. I can't really explain it. You'll either get or you won't.

The last of the large paintings is going well. I still have about 2 1/2 weeks and today it finally started coming together. In case you're just checking in, I've been working on a show for a year. Eleven months, but who's counting. Day in, day out. Thick and thin. I lost some faith a few times along the way. If you've been at this for any length of time and haven't led a fantasy life in an alternative universe, you probably know that everything that prevents you from creating work under optimal conditions is a potential roadblock. Optimal conditions is subjective of course. For some it might be having a track light burn out. To others it might be having to prioritize the cost of a camera over framing expenses or choosing to eat Trader Joe's organic popcorn for dinner. (Who, me?)

Nonetheless, every so often your vision becomes distorted and you start thinking— wait, what was I thinking? I'm in this all alone. Where's my safety net? My posse? And then you get over it, because in order to manage this career you need to practice some form of denial and you  keep working knowing that thousands of hours in the studio, a few headaches, the trip to the emergency room when you slashed your finger, the dog's near-death experience, your rockin' special topics class that cancelled because no one got it, the grant you thought you bagged but didn't, ALL the chores you ignored—would disappear into stardust for one evening where for two hours, all the self-scrutiny goes away, and you can pretend you made a difference. 365 days crunched down to two hours. Year after year. It's crazy, but it's what we do.

So, good people, the show will be at David Lusk Gallery in Nashville. October 11th. Save the date. 

September 09, 2014


If the rest of my hood wasn't hell-bent on manicured lawns, painted shutters and keeping weeds in check, it wouldn't be such a bad view.

August 31, 2014

Two inches of so much painterly heaven it's like Christmas over here.

Detail ^
Mary Addison Hackett
Self-portrait with Red Towel, 2013
I discovered that tomorrow's UPS delivery would arrive this afternoon. So yes, when I heard the UPS truck, I stepped out on the porch to await his arrival. I was smiling like an idiot so I hollered out that I was exited about the package. He asked if it was a camera. Yes, yes, it was. Turns out my UPS guy is an also an aerial photographer bearing a close resemblance to Michael Madsen while wearing shades. If I were still in LA, I would have bet the farm on it.

I'm almost weeping with joy. Since 2010 I've been suffering a through an insufferable malaise about not having amazing images of the work. Ask anyone who would listen. I was almost to the point of thinking I was living in a parallel universe where 'good enough' was the new black and that there was no such thing as a tack sharp image at 100%. I was one breath away from accepting that using loupes and 'actual pixels' to check sharpness of an image was like puttin' g's on verbs. Still, I would come across details of other painter's images and I knew one day, I, too, would have sharp images again. Good People, that day is today. There are still some lighting kinks to work out: one of the cords in my my trusty light kit finally shorted out.

Power Cord with Specialized Housing to Fit Tota Lights
(1988- 2014) 

August 28, 2014

Time for an upgrade.

The guy at B&H called my Nikon D40 a tyrannosaurus. I had to agree. No one shoots 6 MP anymore. If I had the foresight to build all my canvases to match the digital aspect ratio of my camera, I wouldn't have been on the phone with Lou in the first place. But alas, after cropping, my simple caveman pictures are not large enough in our gazillion megapixels world. I told Lou I mostly shoot artwork. He asked me the usual questions: Tripod? Check.  Lights?  Normally check, but I briefed him on 8 foot ceilings and power surges and said I was now shooting outdoors. People think shooting outdoors is great. It's not. It flattens the artwork. Great for flat artwork or sculpture, but if you pride yourself on using your bag of painterly tricks, you're fighting the odds. Even lighting mean no shadows. No shadows mean no texture. No texture means thin washes look suspiciously close to gobs of paint and the beat goes on. Hence, milking everything you can is critical. When it sinks in that 90% of the people who view your art will do so though the Internet or printed matter, you begin to appreciate what a time-consuming OCD detailed process it is. My life working in a frame-accurate, color-accurate, no-pixel-left-behind world conditioned me for minute details. Whenever I feel like I'm being fussy about these things that the average joe in average joeville looking at his average joe monitor might not notice, I remember reassuring words spoken by an artist I met when I first moved here: "You've only got your name and the work." It's true. Never forget it. Ordinarily, I'd never give it a second thought.

But back to Lou. We discussed a few more items though he reiterated that a great deal of progress had been made in the last 10 years in the world of digital photography and gently encouraged me to consider joining the revolution. I'm doing research now. I  currently have a ragtag lot of miscellaneous equipment  listed for sale in order to raise some dough for the new camera. I am  attempting to downsize at the speed of light after watching Tiny, but a day later I decided to keep the old lenses. You never know.